By a Newsnet reporter
Thousands of protestors including MSPs, trade unions and anti-cuts campaigners have taken to the streets of Glasgow to demonstrate against nuclear weapons and the renewal of the Trident missile system.
Protesters assembled in the city’s George Square at 10.15am on Saturday morning, before marching from St Vincent Place to St Vincent Street, then via Renfield Street, Union Street, Argyle Street, Queen Street, Ingram Street and South Frederick Street before returning to George Square.
Police estimate that up to 2000 were in attendance, organisers claim the figure was closer to 4000. The demonstration is part of a series of events held in the city over the weekend by the Scrap Trident Coalition. Workshops will be held in George Square until Sunday. A further protest is due on Monday when protesters plan to organise a blockade outside the Faslane nuclear submarine base.
The Scrap Trident coalition includes the Scottish CND, the Scottish Green Party, the SNP and the Scottish branch of Stop the War.
One of the march organisers, Brian Larkin, co-ordinator of the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, said Trident should be scrapped and the money put into “human needs” instead. He said:
“We want the resources that go into Trident to fund disability benefits, create jobs, scrap the bedroom tax, fund the NHS, fund education and fund welfare.”
Police in George Square reportedly confiscated an effigy of Margaret Thatcher which was set on fire by protesters, but only after the Union flag attached to it also began to burn. Protesters did a conga and chanted: “Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead.”
Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie attended the rally. He said:
“A debate led by the Scottish Greens in the last session of parliament resulted in a historic vote against the renewal of Trident and we continue to call for communities reliant on military jobs to be helped to diversify.
“It is vital that those of us who want to see Trident scrapped also make the case against outdated overblown military budgets and pro-nuclear clubs like Nato.
“An independent Scotland that took a different tack from the UK would send a very powerful message to the international community about the folly of military aggression.”
He added: “Trident is a weapons system that is incapable of discriminating between civilian and military targets. It can only ever be used for the mass slaughter of innocent civilians. It’s not a weapons system that we should be renewing.
“This time we’re on the verge of actually being able to take a decision that will get rid of Trident once and for all. If we vote Yes in 2014 then we have the opportunity to rid Scotland of this disgusting, offensive and illegal weapons system and actually make Scotland a force for peace in the world. It’s a really exciting moment for this movement.”
SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White, was also in attendance. Ms White said:
“The groundswell of opposition against Trident among the people of Scotland demonstrate the overwhelming moral and economic case for ridding Scotland of nuclear weapons.
“But it’s not only the thousands of people gathered here today who are opposed – we know from recent opinion polls that a massive 80% of Scots are against Trident renewal. It’s time for Westminster to take notice.”
“The UK is the fourth most unequal society in the developed world. The Westminster Government tell us we can’t afford to fund our social security system, but at the same time they can find £100bn to spend on weapons of mass destruction. This is abhorrent.
“Trident is not wanted, it is not needed, and it is not affordable, and we will not stop repeating this until Scotland is nuclear-free.”
Help Promote Newsnet Scotland
You can help promote Newsnet Scotland by distributing our high quality custom designed leaflets.
Please click on the image to the right to find out about our promo-campaign and how you can help make others aware of Scotland’s biggest independent online news site.